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Household dangers

Household hazardsIs your home killing you?

Iím not talking about paying the mortgage, or the struggle to keep it clean and repaired. Iím talking about the chemicals that you are exposed to every day, just by being in your home.

Most of the chemicals come from building supplies and cleaning products. You have heard about the VOCís that paints give off. How about the formaldehyde that the manmade Ďwoodení floors give off? Even sheet rock can give off nasty dust particles of that white chalky stuff itís made out of. The solution could be to buy an older home, so all these things have off-gassed or gone away. Then again you may be borrowing trouble with old lead paint and asbestos. Green built homes fare a little better. They are built with an eye to the environmental impact of the building products. In some instances that corresponds to the health impacts as well.

Once you are in your home you donít have much choice about what it is made from. But, every day we make choices about what we use to fill our home with in the way of furnishings and cleaning products. Those flame resistant chemicals that the government insists on being used in furnishings, textiles and baby clothing have been shown to cause anything from cancer to hormonal problems to birth defects. The majority of homes tested had levels of at least one chemical in excess of federal safety standards. There is evidence that those safety levels are set way too high.

TCEP and TDCIPP (also known as chlorinated Tris) are known as chlorinated organophosphates, and it was these that were found in highest levels. Both are known carcinogens. They are closely related to TDBPP (brominated Tris) was banned from children's pajamas in 1977 because it is known to damage DNA and cause mammary (breast) tumors in animals. It is still being used in other household products.

The World Health Organization has labeled a group of chemicals as endocrine disruptors. This group includes Bisphenol-A (BPA), and its replacement BPS, PCBís, phthalates and agricultural pesticides. These are found in Plastic water bottles, Tooth sealants, Plastic gallon milk bottles, Canned foods and soda cans (most have plastic lining in the cans), Plastic microwavable plates, ovenware, and utensils, and Baby toys, bottles, pacifiers, and sippy cups, Processed food packaging, Lubricant and adhesives, Hoses, Detergents, Raincoats, Beauty products like nail polish, hair spray, shampoo, deodorants, and fragrances, Shower curtains, Cosmetics, Vinyl flooring and wall coverings, and Toys.

Other chemicals that have been found harmful are perfluorinated chemicals (PFOAs), which are found in nonstick cookware. These have been shown to increase your chances of developing cancer, birth defects and thyroid disease. Formaldehyde is used as embalming fluid. In the home it can be found in fabrics to give them a variety of "easy care properties" as well as being a common component of pressed-wood products. Formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer in animals, and may cause cancer in humans. Other common adverse health effects include fatigue, skin rashes, and allergic reactions.

Just like we need to be aware of the products we are putting into our mouths we need to be aware of the products we are bringing into our homes. We can use glass instead of plastics. We can avoid plastic wrap and canned foods. We can drink filtered water out of glass containers. We can avoid using artificial air fresheners, dryer sheets, fabric softeners or other synthetic fragrances. We can replace our non-stick pots and pans with ceramic or glass cookware. Replace our vinyl shower curtains with one made of fabric, or install a glass shower door. Most all flexible plastics, like shower curtains, contain dangerous plasticizers like phthalates. Avoid spraying pesticides around our homes or insect repellants that contain DEET on our body. There are safe, effective and natural alternatives out there.

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